In case you haven’t heard, Australia’s been unveiling a huge, multi-billion dollar strategy. The goal? The country is seeking to be the #1 arms exporter in the entire world by the year 2028.
According to Christopher Pyne, Australia’s Defense Minister, this growth in firearm exports is going to open up new jobs for the country’s citizens and will help increase the growth of Australia’s economy.
Not to mention, this massive shift will create a huge reputation for the continent that will be felt all around the world.
Australia’s current defense exports are worth somewhere between AU$1.5 billion and AU$2.5 billion.
According to a news release, Pyne recognizes that this plan is both ambitious and positive, with the end goals being to increase the country’s investment, industry, and job creation for businesses. Pyne states:
“Australia has so many defence industry success stories: Thales’ Bushmaster, Hawkei and sonars, Austal’s ships and engineering and CEA’s world beating radar, amongst many others. This strategy sets the conditions for even more success, and more defence industry jobs in the future.”
In 2016, Australia’s ranking (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) in regards to firearms exports was 20th in the world.
However, the country’s new Defense Export Plan points out various “priority markets” (such as the U.K., Canada, the U.S, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, and New Zealand) that it plans to target in order to climb up the ranks.
Australia is also planning to allocate specific funds to budget for certain aspects of the plan. As Guns.com states:
The plan sets aside AU$20 million in the 2018-19 budget to fund specific initiatives, including AU$4.1 million in grants for small and medium-sized defense companies “to compete internationally” and AU$6.35 million to develop a multi-year export strategy.
Australia’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation will also administer a AU$3.8 billion loan program, called the Export Defense Facility, for companies seeking financing for international sales deals.
“It will provide confidence to Australian Defence industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities knowing Efic’s support is available when there is a market gap for defence finance,” Pyne said.
Critics say the plan defies Australian values of promoting stability in war-torn regions and diverts billions in taxpayer-funded humanitarian aid to defense spending.
“We should be helping to build peace and stability with our allies not working our way up the arms dealers’ top 100,” said Marc Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development. “Australians believe we need less violence and conflict in the world and will be questioning why their tax-dollars are being used to fuel bloodshed.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has invested over AU$200 billion into the Australian Defense Force capability since taking office in 2015, according to a government news release.
“Rather than fuel conflict, Australian aid has helped millions of people get an education, receive better healthcare and has increased peace and security,” Purcell said. “We need to refocus on reducing the drivers of conflict – helping people with the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.”
Tim Costello, chief advocate for World Vision, shamed government leaders for prioritizing weapons exports over renewable energy or biotechnology in a joint statement with Purcell this week.
“Millions of people across the world are running from violence and our answer to that is to produce more weapons,” he said. “Whatever money we make from this dirty business will be blood money.”